07/16/2003 11:00PM

Krone back with new perspective


SHAKOPEE, Minn. - Saturday marks the sixth time that Julie Krone has traveled to Canterbury Park. The Hall of Famer rode in a 1988 jockey challenge, a 1988 match race against Bill Shoemaker, a 1989 match race against Dean Kutz, and the 1991 Minnesota Derby. She even made a public relations appearance at the 2000 Claiming Crown after retiring from riding.

Yet Krone said Thursday that those trips to Canterbury were much different than what she expects here Saturday, when she will ride four horses in the fifth annual Claiming Crown. Having forsaken retirement last year, she has adopted a whole new outlook on the meaning of being a jockey.

"As you get a little bit older, you change and evolve," said Krone, 39. "When you're younger, before you have any spills, things come easier. Racing means other things."

Krone was scheduled to arrive in Minnesota early Saturday after catching a red-eye flight from Southern California, where she recently resumed her riding career after being out for about four months with a back injury suffered in a spill at Santa Anita. She said the latest layoff strengthened her appreciation for a career that has made her easily the most successful female jockey in racing history.

"It used to be that riding somewhere like Canterbury was more about the competition or the ego trip, but as a mature person, it's more about sharing the whole experience with the many wonderful people in this industry," she said. "Racing is so filled with people working 14-hour days, people who devote their whole lives to the game, that I'm much more appreciative of that than when I was younger."

Krone's schedule of mounts Saturday starts with Lucky Spirit in the Glass Slipper. She then rides Debonair Joe in the Rapid Transit, Image in the Emerald, and Daunting in the Jewel.

She said she has "a lot of confidence in all of them" but makes no secret that Debonair Joe holds a special place in her heart. In certain respects, Krone was still trying to prove herself in her return from retirement when she rode Debonair Joe to a 26-1 victory in the Grade 1 Malibu last December.

"That race gave me such a thrill because of everything involved," Krone said.

Krone has not ventured outside of California very often since resuming her career, so she is particularly excited about coming to the Claiming Crown.

"It's one of my first trips back East, so I'm really looking forward to it," she said. "Plus I honestly think the concept of the event is fabulous. Claiming horses are warriors. They give you so much."

Krone said she can still recall "like it was yesterday" when she rode Don't Fool With Me to a head victory over Dakota Slew in her match race with Shoemaker. The date was Oct. 2, 1988.

" Shoe was such a fixture, such a legend and competitor, that it was always fun to participate in any activity with him," she said. "That race always reminds me of when I was 13 and I wrote a letter to Shoe's agent, Harry Silberman. It was one of those 'I want to be a jockey, what do I do' kind of letters. I wrote it to Santa Anita, but Silberman never wrote me back. So maybe me winning was a kind of poetic justice."

Krone said she is not looking for any deep meaning from what she accomplishes here Saturday.

"All my horses look live," she said. "I'm sure it'll be a great experience."